On 6 December 2010, the Government announced that from 2013, Disability Living Allowance (DLA) will be replaced by a new benefit called the ‘Personal Independence Payment’ (PIP).

This is expected to be for working-age disabled adults only. However, the Government is reviewing whether to replace child DLA too.

What do the changes mean?

Like DLA, the new benefit will continue to be payable to people whether they are in or out of work, and be non-means tested.

We are concerned about how the assessment will work for the new benefit, as well as about proposals for regular re-assessments.

We welcome some of the indications from the Government that the specific needs of people with autism will be taken into account in the assessment of the new benefit.

For example, the consultation document on the changes emphasises that in ensuring eligibility for the mobility component of the new benefit, ability to get around should look at more than a person’s ability to walk and also include their ability to plan a journey.

However, we urge the Government to make sure that it properly involves people with autism in redesigning the assessment process to ensure that the needs of this group are comprehensively covered by the assessment.

We are also worried about proposals for re-assessment to become more commonplace, as this may cause unnecessary anxiety for people with long-term conditions, such as autism. 

Moreover, the proposals set out a plan to reduce the number of bands of benefit payment and should be seen in the context of the Government’s plans to cut the projected spend on DLA for working-age disabled people by 20 per cent over the next three years.

We are therefore concerned about whether the new assessment could be used to cut the number of people eligible for the benefit.

What the NAS is doing and what you can do to help

The NAS will be responding to the consultation on the proposed changes and we will be working on the legislation on this issue as it passes through Parliament.

If you would like to help us with our response, please email policy@nas.org.uk

You can also respond to the consultation directly. Go to www.dwp.gov.uk/consultations/2010/dla-reform.shtml to download the full consultation document. Please copy policy@nas.org.uk to any response.

Source:  http://www.autism.org.uk/en-gb/news-and-events/news-from-the-nas/government-announces-changes-to-dla.aspx